HOME > Chowhound > Minneapolis-St. Paul >


On's Thai Kitchen

Ahhh.... drama.

On's Thai kitchen is owned and operated by the sister of the woman who owns Bangkok Thai Deli. But wait, there's more. On used to be the head cook at BTD until about five months ago when she quit and went back to Thailand for a few months.

She bought the fixtures and equipment from Cafe Bonxai's owners on Dec. 1, and promptly opened her restaurant in that space on Dec. 2.

Those of you familiar with the food at Bangkok Thai Deli will immediately recognize the flavors and dishes at On's. They were her recipes at BTD for the most part. That's from where the drama comes... not terribly unlike the recent Pham Phamily Phlap over who own(s) the recipes at their place in St Louis Park. Threats of lawsuits are already in the air.

But, on a happy note, don 't be dissuaded from going to give On a try. Her cooking skills are first rate and she really does care about the food she puts on your plate.

Today we had Tom Yum Gung Nam Kon (it's Tom Yum with milk added to the broth), Panang beef, Khao Moo Dang (red roast pork over rice with a red gravy), and, Pla Khem (salty preserved fish that is pan fried and served with a very spicy and sour sauce). That last dish is for the 'experienced' eater. It's an acquired taste to say the least, but extremely popular with Thai people and others familiar with oily preserved fish.

It was all delicious.



  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thanks for the report. I'm glad to hear it's all "delicious". How's the food at BTD these days, I wonder, with all the drama and with the sister-who-used-to-cook gone?


    1 Reply
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      TDQ, it is just my opinion, but with On now open and no longer at BTD, BTD has seriously suffered. Also, I think that is what is driving some of the animosity from BTD towards On.

    2. I was also at On today for lunch. Had the Red Curry with pork. They talked me out of getting it spicy but they were able to bring ground pepper to heat it up. Over all it was very good. I thought it was better than BTD but I was there on hot summer day and the air conditioning wasn't working so that might have influenced my thoughts on BTD. Reminded me of the food I had in Thailand.

      1. We visited On's twice this weekend, photos below. Everything that Huagung has stated above was also confirmed to us. Just to let folks know, we eat at BTD once or twice a week for last two years...
        But, around June, things seemed 'changed', the flavors were a little off and the quality started to slip. Now we know why.
        On and her sister Tok opened up December 2nd, and after our first two visits this weekend, I now know what was missing, On was missing.
        Not only is the ambiance much nicer at On's, but the food is hands down much more tasty and correct. We immediately noticed the freshness of the vegetables and the care that had gone into the preparation. On came out to our table both days to ensure that everything was prepared to our liking, just like she used to in the BTD days.
        Is it better than BTD? In my opinion it completely blows them away.
        Saturday we had Khang Pad Ga Pow, Spring Rolls, and Spicy Noodle. All were incredible dishes perfectly prepared, it may have been the best Thai that I have ever eaten.
        The flavors were balanced perfectly and cooked to perfection. I have literally eaten Pad Ga Pow more than a hundred times, and this was the best yet.
        Sunday, we had egg rolls, Pad Khana Mu Kroup (twice cooked pork belly in sauce), and more Pad Ga Pow. The Pad Khana Mu Kroup, was one of the best pork dishes I have ever had. Each bite of pork was a perfect mix of crunchy skin, fat and succulent meat. It was a pork explosion of taste with each bite.

        Now to the bad!
        The place was almost empty both days, and business has been slow since start up. If you truly want to eat perfectly prepared Thai food that is authentic, and of a high quality, you NEED to get out to On's.
        The photos below are in order the Eggrolls, Spring Rolls, Pad Ga Pow, Pad Khana Mu Kroup, and the menu.

        This is also a temporary menu, On and Tok are expecting to expand it greatly over the next couple of months.
        Chowhounds, do yourselves a favor and get out to On's and taste Thai like it should be prepared.

        2 Replies
        1. re: doctor k

          Dang it, I put the spring rolls up twice and forgot the Spicy Noodle!

        2. Oh my G-D. On's is amazing. Once I found it, a challenge in itself, I had the most incredibly scrumptious meal. We started out with the fish cake appetizers which were little puffs of fish, with chili, lemongrass, something sweet, and fish sauce wrapped in a tofu skin and fried. There were served with a sweet cucumber and chili salad. There were pop in your mouth flavorful.

          For my meal I had the crispy pork with chinese broccoli. It was another wonderful combination of crispy pork belly stir fried with crunchy broccoli all surrounded by a sweet spicy sauce. Transcendent food.

          While we were the only ones there at 6:30 pm, they did say that they had a five year lease and that the noontime traffic is great. Keep them open for me, please. Get there soon and get there often.

          1. I've been thrice, once for take-out and twice to dine in, and I brought friends both times. Everyone has enjoyed it. Service has improved with the addition of the two waitresses with stronger English, although it still feels a little nervous.

            Last time I had the "Spicy Noodle", and it was quite aptly named. Really good.

            2 Replies
            1. re: semanticantics

              The place is truly amazing, I think we are up to about 7-8 visits now. Her Haw Mok is also fantastic. And I agree, now that Jennifer (Tok's daughter) is waiting tables along with the other gal it is now much easier to communicate.
              If you have not tried out the place and you're a fan of Thai, you really owe to yourself to go!

              1. re: doctor k

                awesome! i am so getting that next time. we went and were the only ones there for sun @ lunch (day after xmas, but still!). we all had soup. the tom yum, suki yaki, and my parents had pho (i tried not to be mad they didn't order thai dishes). i will tell you, the thai stuff was awesome! .. plus on came out & gave us some freshly fried shrimp puff chips and talked to us for a while.. great folks, great restaurant.. now if it would only be closer to our house.. :)

            2. Going to have to be the minority report here.

              Headed there for lunch today to get some work done and enjoy some great food. Parking was a bear, but I knew it would be. That alley is brutal. Shame on the city for not even bothering to plow it.

              The ambiance is nice. Little has changed from Bon Xai, but Bon Xai kept it up quite well. Place was about 2/3rds full, and I heard waiters apologizing left and right. Not a good sign.

              Twenty minutes later, I was able to order. I went with the Haw Mok appetizer and the pork belly and broccoli stir fry.

              40 minutes later I received the Haw Mok, a banana leaf filled with lumpy-looking curry. The first few bites were bland, but inoffensive. It came as a "two-star" spicy dish, but had no discernible kick. The interior was cold, bordering on frozen. Was this re-heated? Watery residue at the bottom implied as much. Awful.

              It was served with rice, at which I spent the next twenty minutes nibbling. Too bad, since I needed it for the pork dish. I've had this at BTD, and I liked it there. This is, essentially, the same preparation, so I had no problem with it, though it needed more rice as an accompaniment. It's a tasty pork belly dish.

              In fairness, they continued to be extremely apologetic throughout the process. That would be great if I enjoyed spending money for the pleasure of taking pity on a restaurant. Otherwise, either comp something, or amp it up.

              In a pinch, I'd head here for take out. I'm inclined to give it another shot once it gets its act together. Best Thai in the cities? Not in the slightest.

              3 Replies
              1. re: kevin47

                That sounds like a dreadful lunch. My take on On's joint is that they need a serious upgrade in service training and staffing. I don't know if they don't get what it takes to do the right thing, or if they are laboring under the impression that if they apologize enough people won't care. In either event, the service needs a LOT of help. Maybe it's a budget thing... I really don't know. Our three visits have all been met with either hyper-vigilant service (asking 15 times in a meal if everything is OK) or, three-ring circus chaos. Not good. As much as my wife and I like On, and we really do think her heart is in the right place, it seems they are overwhelmed and understaffed. I hope they figure that out before it's too late. She really is a first rate cook when she is on her game.

                Your description of the Hor Mok sounds awful. I love that dish elsewhere and have never had it floating in water, or cold in the middle. It's supposed to be custardy, not soupy/watery.

                In other news, the wife and I ate at Naviya's Thai Brasserie tonight. More details on that mistake in the appropriate thread...



                Naviya's Thai Brasserie
                2812 W 43rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55410

                1. re: kevin47

                  The alley is the responsibility of the businesses and/or houses adjoining it in Saint Paul.

                  The city doesn't plow alleys.

                  1. re: blgaarder

                    Well, somebody should. The tire divots were almost a foot deep.

                2. Tried On’s Thai Kitchen last night with a friend. The crab cakes were delicious, as was the sauce that accompanied them. But…

                  - My friend’s spicy noodles were mushy.
                  - My green curry with tofu was greasy and a bit flat. I kind of liked that they fried the Thai eggplant before adding it to the curry, though.
                  - There was only one waiter serving the half-full restaurant. And I think only two people (maybe three) in the kitchen. We had to ask for water refills and the check. But for as many people as he had to take care of, the waiter did an admirable job.

                  I definitely want to go back and give it another try. I’ll give it a couple months in the hopes that they get more consistent in their food preparation and that they figure out staffing. There’s promise here.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ShinyCake

                    I went for lunch on Thursday and also had the green curry with tofu. I'm not a big eggplant fan, so I was disappointed it was the dominant vegetable. It was also not as flavorful as the green curry from Ruam Mit, my usual. I also had a veggie spring roll and the overwhelming flavor was mint, which I also dislike.

                    Service was speedy and pleasant. There restaurant was maybe 1/3 full.

                      1. re: doctor k

                        They open at 9 am. We skipped breakfast at home and went at 10 am because we needed to be somewhere at 11:15 am. The food was delicious. The service attentive and careful. The waiter checked with us after we tucked into the first dish to see if the spice-level was to our liking so he could adjust the level if it was too hot or too bland. We had shrimp salad with lemongrass and peanuts, the soup was basically Tom Yum with coconut milk, and a pork stir fry with a fried egg over the top of a pile of rice and you mix it all together to eat it.

                        Most of the bad experiences reported in this thread seem to happen when the restaurant is busy. Maybe On's has not yet figured out how to scale up.

                  2. This is so close to my house it's easy to walk over and stop at the Turf Club for drinks after dinner. On was fantastic and so friendly - willing to make fried tofu (a favorite weakness) off the menu. My husband loved the garlic chicken, even though he is not a fan of heat, and I could pretty much inhale anything off the menu. Delish!

                    1. Lunch today. Had the pork with chinese broccoli on recommendation of our server. I posed three options to him, and she steered me toward that one. When he mentioned that the pork was crispy fried pork belly, that made it a no-brainer for me. Dish was excellent. Service was quick and professional.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Brad Ballinger

                        Had the Won Ton soup the other day. It's a treat. Two kinds of wontons, tasted house-made with lots of other good and somewhat identifiable stuff floating in a tasty clear broth.

                        The chicken satay was ok. Most Thai places in the twin cities dry out the chicken (hard to avoid if you use breast meat). Satay 2 Go is the only place I've found that serves juicy Chicken Satay.

                        Satay 2 Go
                        6670 150th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55124

                        1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                          That's the correct address for Satay 2 Go but it is in Apple Valley.

                      2. Went there for very late lunch last Tuesday. It was almost 3 pm, and I was the only table in the restaurant, so the service was very nice and prompt.

                        I ordered huh-mok as an appetizer. Huh-mok is a steamed curry fish custard in a banana leaf cup. It's a mixture of white fish, egg, coconut milk & cream, red curry paste and some seasoning topped on a bed of shredded cabbage. I think On's Huh-Mok was pretty good and was pretty close to what I would get back home. They put this item as appetizer, but I usually eat it with rice, because it could be a bit too strong to eat miniature curry fish cup as an appetizer.

                        My main dish was Khao Man Gai or Thai-style Hainanese Chicken rice. This dish is influenced from Hainan-Chinese population in Thailand. It's basically boiled chicken meat over oily rice. The secrets that will make this dish great is from how the whole chicken was boiled, how the flavorful oily rice was cooked, and how the dipping sauce was mixed. I have to say that this dish was almost there but not totally there yet. The chicken was nice, but I thought it was a tad bit dry. The oily rice was flavorful and not overly oily. The dipping sauce, which actually is a main thing that could make this dish a hit or a miss, was a tad bit too strong.

                        I will definitely go back there again to try other items on the menu that On's offers.

                        1. Thank you for the review -- we went there on Valentine's Day not expecting fast service but looking forward to great food. We were not disappointed. The food was amazing. We really, really enjoyed the meal.

                          Granted, the service really was kind of awful. My hubby never got his appetizer, and the waiter mentioned about 40 minutes later that they were out of what he ordered. My own appetizer and entree came out together AFTER everyone else had been served both their appetizer and dinner. And no one would ever let my husband and I order something to drink. We tried more than once, but they would run away before we could open our mouths.

                          On did come out to the table and apologize for the wait. But she said that she won't let anyone else cook the food because it wouldn't be the same! I guess she is right. The food was worth the wait.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: goproduce

                            On a lark, we ordered On's for lunch the other day. I went with the laab salad and the Spicy Thai noodles.

                            The laab salad was very good. It was heavier on cilantro than mint, which I prefer. Really nice balance, with the meat nice and rich.

                            The spicy Thai noodles were very bad. It tasted like pad thai with ketchup (or lot's more ketchup, if they already use the stuff). The noodles were watery, with tomatoes everywhere. It's tasted like Sri Racha Spaghettios. I don't get the appeal.

                            The curries garnered generally good reviews from co-workers.

                          2. We ate there this evening. The service was prompt and friendly and the food was fresh and delicious. We had the spring rolls with mock duck, the hot and sour soup with pork, and the crispy pork with Chinese broccoli. We ordered it a little too hot for our tastes, but we muscled through it and still enjoyed it very much. They were concerned that we weren't eating quickly and offered to re-make it less spicy - very nice of them! We will be going back to try more dishes.

                            1. Absolutely delighted by our visit this weekend! On has new dish that is not on her menu yet, Kor Moo Yang, which is grilled pork neck served with a tangy dipping sauce. This was the first time that I have ever eaten pork neck, and it was very different. The meat has an earthy tone to it, they marinade it for quite a bit of time, and the dipping sauce was indescribablly good. This is not a dish that I have ever seen here in the Twin Cities. On also mentioned that they have been very, very busy as of late, thanks Chowhounders!

                              1. Been twice now. Very close to my office. The red curry with pork was good, not outstanding and the Pad Se Yew was very good. I still like the Asian Deli for price and quantity...it is just not as convienent for me. If folks are interested in trying something else, check it out. Good service, mom and pop joint that is cheap, clean and the portions are huge.
                                I will be frequenting both, now to get my fix...

                                Asian Deli
                                388 Western Ave N, St Paul, MN 55103

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: shanemio

                                  Stuffed chicken wings - absolutely awesome. This is not a fusion knockoff, but a high end menu item at an absolute bargain. My wife and I went for the first time and enjoyed everything. Alas, service was very slow on a Friday night. Then On came out and chatted, and everything seemed okay after that.

                                  1. re: doctor k

                                    BYOB? Sounds like a nice antidote to the ponderous service.

                                    1. re: kevin47

                                      I can vouch for this BYOB; I was in there the other day with my husband and this couple next to us had a couple of beers from across the street. We even got them to pour us a bit off of their beers while we waited! It's great.

                                    2. re: doctor k

                                      We went for dinner yesterday and clearly the Star Trib contingent was out in force - the restaurant was packed with more middle aged white people than you expect to see on University :) I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly we were served. We got there at 5 and were out by 5:45. A bit faster than some people might like, we we had our 13 month old with us and we're never sure how long he'll last, so it was very appreciated. The portions aren't huge, but the prices match that and it means you shouldn't be afraid of ordering multiple dishes. We got red curry fish cakes, the stir fried chicken with basil and chicken pad thai. The pad thai noodles were nicely chewy, but it was sweeter and saucier than I like. My husband really liked it. The only way I can think to describe the flavor is "slightly ketchupy" though I don't mean it as an insult. Just saucy, sweet and sour. The chicken with basil was very nice too. We ordered them both very mild so our son could eat some - I'm sure they would have been better if we had ordered them medium, especially the stir fry. But that was our decision, no reflection on the restaurant. We will definitely be back - I can't wait to try the red curry. It is very conveniently located for us, and the construction caused no problems.

                                      1. re: sarahcooks

                                        I totally agree, I also ordered On's Pad Thai and thought it was a little too saucy, and yes, it had a sweet and sour flavor instead of the peanut flavor I'm used to. It was, however, topped with plenty of freshly minced peanuts and cilantro so it was quite unmistakably Pad Thai.

                                        At the end of the meal the server asked if I enjoyed my meal, and I said it was delicious but just a bit sweet in a no-big-deal sort of way. The word got back to On, and she came out and apologized to me and promised to make it again next time not-so-sweet. She's a very sweet woman who is absolutely committed to culinary perfection, I can tell!

                                    3. On's Kitchen absolutely rocks, I am so happy to have it in my Hamline-Midway neighborhood! If you like Thai food, it is worth navigating the now-treacherous strait of University Avenue. I highly recommend avoiding avoiding University and park on Sherburne Ave or Fry St, and make the short walk to On's from those side streets. Also her front door was recently busted so there's gray-painted plywood covering it. It's ugly but all that matters here is the FOOD, dammit!

                                      The Spring Rolls ($3.99) are first rate. Densely tight-packed in rice wrappers, the rolls contain pork, shrimp, cilantro, mint, rice vermicelli, and lettuce. It's served with a tangy, sweet, sauce topped with minced peanuts and just a dash of red pepper flakes. (Get this sauce on your fingers and you WILL need to wash your hands, the stuff is like glue used for lick-envelopes.)

                                      My two favorite dishes are the Green Curry ($8.99) and the Massaman Curry ($8.99). It's really a toss-up as to which I prefer because they're both just fantastic and it depends what mood I'm in.

                                      The Green Curry has your choice of meat or tofu, and has chopped bell peppers, onions, and lightly sauteed chunks of eggplant. Green Curry sauce is bright and spicy, but also rich as it's made with coconut milk; just like the Massaman. Massaman consists of the chosen meat or tofu, plus potatoes. Massaman curry tastes very rich and savory, yet has slight citrusy notes.

                                      Both Curries are of a creamy soup-like consistency, but I just spoon it out over the plate of coconut-fragrant rice accompanied with the dish. You may wish to request more rice, as you are only served about a cup of rice.

                                      The only thing that has crept into the back of my mind at On's is the level of MSG she tosses into the dishes and I think it may be a lot. I suppose you could request no MSG while ordering but the food is so delicious I would rather leave well-enough alone!

                                      1. Went to On's for about the 5-6 time over the weekend. Had the best dish ever (so far) on this most recent visit. In the salad portion of the menu I ordered the salad with crisp fired squid and fish, mango, lime, liantro, etc. It's sort of laab-ish, but with fruit. And the crisp fried fish is fish stomach. The crisp fried squid was sort of pork rind consistency. This dish was truly amazing.

                                        Also, On's now has their beer and wine license. From what I can tell, bottled beer only. $10 corkage fee applies if you still wish to bring your own wine.

                                        1. Since I'm on my own for the rest of the week, I decided to hit a new University Ave. restaurant each night. Tonight was On's. Traffic really was not the horror I expected during rush hour on University -- I suspect people are just staying away. I arrived around 5:30 and was the only non-staff person in the place.

                                          I ordered Nam Prik Pla Too, which seemed to be a surprise to the staff and On, who was sitting toward the back of the room. Apparently not many non-Thais order it, though On and her daughter mentioned that she likes to make it for breakfast.

                                          Nam Prik Pla Too is a build-your-own dish made with whole crispily-fried "tuna" (I suspect it really was mackerel based on its size and the menu calling it "macro", but it was still good); nam prik, which is a sauce made of fermented shrimp paste, chilis, and enough raw garlic to scare off vampires and your date; and sides of bamboo shoots, carrots, fried green beans, fried eggplant, cabbage, and cucumbers (the only non-cooked side).

                                          Since I was a first-timer with nam prik anything, the waitress showed me how to liberate some fish and one's choice of sides, put it on rice and spoon a little nam prik over all. You also can eat with your hands and dip directly in the nam prik; that seems to be the Thai method. However you eat it, it's good stuff. I ordered it "medium" based on previous experience with Thai food and asking the waitress if 10 was authentically Thai spicy. I could have gone to 7 or 8 easily. Nice heat; not just fire. A revelatory dish to someone who's been to most of the Thai restaurants along University and a few others!

                                          Service was fine -- when I left there were only two other tables occupied, so the staff came around frequently. On, of course, came out, as well. I could see them watching me take my first bites to check my reaction (definitely positive).

                                          This is seriously good food, and I WILL be back. Just not this week -- got a few other places to try!

                                          1. Tried to go today, but no air conditioning. Oof, that wasn't happening.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: kevin47

                                              Yeah, but there are a couple of tables under the ceiling fans. Not so bad if you're eating something really fiery. :-)

                                              1. re: kevin47

                                                two weeks at least and $15,000 she said. Bummer. It's a beast in there. We went yesterday and it was rough. We'll probably wait for the air for another visit (or at least cooler temps).



                                                1. re: HuaGung

                                                  Went there again Friday night with half-a-dozen other people (one curry, four pad thai, and me :-( ) Hey, a filled table is a filled table. Anyway, all said they enjoyed their meals very much.

                                                  Brings up a question, though. When I ordered my chicken with peapods (I don't remember the Thai name), I asked for "hot" -- 4 out of 5 -- and got some pushback from the waitress. Tuesday's waitress offered a hotness scale of 1 to 5. Friday's different waitress offered 1-3 and didn't want to write down 3 until I mentioned ordering Nam Prik Pla Too on a previous visit. "3" was good, but I really expected to break a sweat. Is it something about my metabolism and Thai peppers or has On "dumbed down" the heat level?

                                                  BTW, while we were there, they (Mr. On?) were installing a portable air conditioner. It didn't seem really effective, but I'll grant that they had just switched it on. Between that, the ceiling fans, and the cooler temperatures, it was pleasant in there.

                                                  1. re: HuaGung

                                                    I stopped in this morning for take out, happy to report that the new AC unit is being installed Wed-Thur of this coming week. I think On and all of her staff will as happy if not more happy than us. Should be nice and icy come Friday.

                                                    1. re: doctor k

                                                      AC now in place and much more happy! The food is absolutely fabulous as usual, but it sure is nice to be comfortable while eating!

                                                2. We tried their fish custard appetizer which wasn't bad, liked their coconut soup. The beef laap was okay though husband thought it had a bit too much fish sauce (I was okay with it). I really, really loved their curry crab though! The scrambled egg soaked up all the juice. Goes perfect with rice!

                                                  1. Huge note of CONGRATULATIONS to On, for today is the one year anniversary of the opening of my favorite place in the metro. Hopefully for many years to come!

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: doctor k

                                                      I join you in both congratulation and esteem for the delicious food and nice people! Wishing them a great recovery from light rail chaos.

                                                      1. re: Haricotsv2

                                                        I love Om's. I went there this week and ordered mango salad. It was wonderful. Spicy, good dose of fish sauce, and freckled with toasted peanuts. Yummy! I also had the fish cake appetizer, my favorite there. On's tastes like my memories of SE Asia. I get happy there. It is wonderful to celebrate the first anniversary to this gem in our community.

                                                    2. Is On's menu online anywhere (sadly, I cannot read the fine print on the photos of the menus posted here).



                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        Thanks for the reminder. I need to visit On's soon!

                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          Are you still looking for the menu? If not, someone else might be!


                                                          I too was looking around for the menu online and could not find it. hopefully you can see the menu I am trying to post. I picked it up from On's a couple weeks ago.

                                                          As for my visit to On's, I will be back. I refuse to go back to many of the Thai places in St Paul.

                                                          1. re: dc1515

                                                            Thanks for scanning in and posting that menu! Last time I was there they had run out of hard copies of the menu.

                                                            1. re: Special Dish

                                                              I love the sour sausage!!! anyone else know where I can find the fermented sausage in town?

                                                            2. re: dc1515

                                                              If only they did delivery. Thanks for posting the menu.


                                                              1. re: dc1515

                                                                Thanks! We were there recently and I tried the "think bacon" on a whim. Now I can't stop thinking about it, so I plan on calling it that from now on!

                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                  One year later update :) On's now has a website with the menu on it: http://www.onskitchen.com/

                                                                2. Pad See Ew and Thai Red Curry. DELICIOUS.